Natalie was tired as they reached the TARDIS. It had been a very long day. A pleasant day, it had to be said. One with nothing to worry about. The planet WAS one of the presets in Chrístõ’s database, but whatever challenge he was supposed to face there had never materialised. They had been treated well by the population, who, being only three feet tall at the most, found them all fascinating, especially Chrístõ, who towered above them at his manly six foot height. He had been practically worshipped by them. He, for his part, had been charming and diplomatic. Especially when a number of three foot high fathers all petitioned him to marry their daughters. He pointed out that he already had a fiancée in Julia and they insisted that a man of his stature should have at least ten wives. Natalie laughed as she remembered the expression on his face as he struggled to find a diplomatic response to that. Julia had taken it in good spirit at least. She had only wondered what Humphrey would make of ten three foot ladies in the TARDIS.

“Cup of tea, that’s what you need.” Chrístõ turned to Natalie with a reassuring smile as he opened the TARDIS door.

“Yes,” she agreed. “I just wish it wasn’t such a walk to the kitchen.”

“You sit down on the sofa,” he said. “I’ll make the tea and bring it to you.”

“You’re a very sweet boy, Chrístõ,” she answered him with a smile.

“I try to be,” he told her.

“Boy,” she thought to herself, laughing at her own words. “He is one hundred and fifty years older than I am. And he has had experiences I couldn’t begin to contemplate.” But she looked back at his face as he took her arm and brought her to the sofa. He still had the innocent look of youth. She resisted, as she always did, the temptation to touch his face and see if he was real.

Julia stayed and looked after Natalie while Chrístõ went to the kitchen and prepared tea and sandwiches and sweet biscuits on a tray. He reminded himself he was the heir to an Oldblood House and making tea was a very menial task for him to be doing. He had drunk tea for as long as he could remember. It WAS an Earth beverage, but one which was popular all over the universe, wherever Human colonies or Humanoid populations could be found. His father had picked up the habit from living on Earth and of course, his mother had enjoyed it as a little reminder of home.

But he had never MADE tea. It was always brought to him in fine china cups by a servant of their home or an ambassadorial aide. The first time he ever made tea was when he met Li Tuo and he had taught him the Chinese tea ceremony. And he had done so to prove a point. Namely, that the ambassador’s son who was so used to being served by others, needed to learn some humility. Coming from his misogynistic Gallifreyan society, it was even more of a lesson in humility since he was performing a service that was normally done by women. But the young Lord of Time had learnt his lesson, and learnt how to make tea. A skill that would come in useful in his continued association with the Human race.

When he returned to the console room with the tray he was surprised to find Julia operating the videophone control. He looked up at the viewscreen and saw his father.

“He wants to talk to you,” Julia said as she took the tea from him and brought it to where Natalie was sitting. He went to the console instead.

“Chrístõ,” his father said with a warm smile. “I seem to have interrupted you at an inconvenient time.”

“We were just about to take tea,” he answered, and Julia brought a cup to him as he spoke.

“What are your plans for the next few days?” his father asked. “Can you change them?”

“We were going to Liverpool,” he said. “To see how Li Tuo is faring, and so that Cassie can show us how baby Chrístõ is getting along. Why?” he added. “What’s happening?”

“Perhaps you should take Natalie and Julia to Liverpool then come on and meet me on your own,” The Ambassador said. “That would be much better, I think. There is something I must do and I should like you to accompany me.”

“What?” he asked.

“It’s probably best I don’t say anything more for now. It would only worry you. But when you have made sure the ladies are comfortable in Liverpool and ensured Li Tuo is as well as can be expected and your precious little namesake is healthy I would be glad if you could join me on the space station at Kappa Psi. We can travel on from there together.”

His instinct was to question further, but he knew better. If his father had decided not to tell him anything more then that was final. He turned to the ‘ladies’ as his father so diplomatically called them. Julia was looking conflicted. On the one hand spending time with their friends in Liverpool was wonderful. But being left behind while Chrístõ went elsewhere was not so much fun.

“Don’t worry,” he told her. “I’ll be back in a few days. And don’t tell Terry I have tickets for the Liverpool – Chelsea game. That’s my surprise for him.”

The TARDIS felt quiet without them. He wondered as he set the co-ordinates for Kappa Psi what he would do once they were gone from him. That thought so often haunted him, the more so in recent months. But he put it from his mind as he looked forward to seeing his father again.

Funny, but when he first left Gallifrey to see the universe he was glad to get away from his world, and especially his family. He wanted to be free of it all. But those family ties were stronger than he thought. And whatever this was about it would be pleasant to spend some time with his father.


“So what is this all about?” he asked as he sat with his father in the first class section of the scheduled shuttle from the space station to the planets of the Kappa Psi system. “Why have you brought me here? Why are YOU here, father?”

“The High Council sent me,” The Ambassador answered. “I have to act as observer in a trial in the High Court of Kappa Psi IV.”

“Why?” Then he understood. “A Gallifreyan is being tried?”

“Yes. And as such he is entitled to have two witnesses of our own kind in the court to ensure the proceedings are fair.”

Chrístõ nodded. That was, indeed, the right of any Gallifreyan on trial in another place than their homeworld. It was not the first time his father had attended in such a capacity. It WAS the first time he had taken him along, though.

“This is something you think I should learn in readiness for joining the diplomatic corps?” he asked.

“Yes, there is that to it,” his father answered. But there is something more in this instance. The particular case… the particular prisoner…”

“Who is it?” Chrístõ asked. He looked at his father. There was something in his expression as he looked back at him. Chrístõ reeled back from him in shock.

“No!” he said. “Oh, no. Not…” Again his father didn’t have to say anything. “What did he do? How was he caught?”

“The charge is murder. That’s all I actually know at this time. We will learn the rest later, no doubt.”

Chrístõ nodded. He couldn’t trust himself to do anything else.

“Father….” he began, then he stopped and looked out of the window of the shuttle at the Kappa Psi solar system with its eight planets in synchronistic orbit – a twist of nature that made it unique in the known universe.

It was unique just now for something else, too.


He was still having trouble working out how he felt about it when they reached the prison facility. From the diplomatic car that drove them there he looked up at the forbidding walls and swallowed hard. He didn’t want to have to go inside those walls. He had a strange, irrational feeling he would not be allowed out again.

“Horrible place, isn’t it,” his father said. “Almost as terrible as Shada.”

“I’ve never been there,” Chrístõ reminded his father. He wasn’t even sure what the prison planet where Gallifrey’s own worst criminals were incarcerated looked like. The closest his father had allowed him to go was its moon. He remembered people talking about it at the Academy. Speculating on what tortures went on there was a rather macabre topic of conversation after lights out in the junior dormitories, along with taking bets on which of them was most likely to end up there.

“I attended there many times as Magister. And once during my time as Chancellor. An official inspection of the facility. I was glad to leave. It’s a cursed place.”

“I attended there once during my time as Chancellor. An official inspection of the facility. I was glad to leave. It’s a cursed place.”

“So is this place,” Chrístõ said. He swallowed hard as the car passed through the gates and the first thing he saw was the gallows. “They have a death penalty here?”

“Yes. And that is not the instrument of death. That’s just there for ‘show’. They have something much more gruesome, so I’m told.”

Chrístõ swallowed again and wished fervently that he could be anywhere but here right now.

“Sometimes we have unpleasant duties,” his father told him. “Diplomacy is not all attending grand balls.”

“I know that,” he answered. “But… still… This…”

The car stopped and their driver opened the door for them. They stepped out and walked up the steps to the main prison building. His father’s diplomatic credentials cut out a lot of the procedure, but they still had to go through several screenings and body scans to ensure they were carrying nothing that could aid and abet a prisoner’s release.

Though how they expected a prisoner ever to escape Chrístõ could not imagine. He stared in astonishment and something approaching sympathy through the wall of steel bars to the prisoner within. He looked up at the place in the ceiling where the manacles were anchored, the thick chains and the unbreakable cuffs around his wrists, the similar cuffs around his ankles, and the chains embedded in the stone-flagged floor. He was dressed in nothing but a pair of cotton prison issue slacks with no shirt. His head was roughly shaven and his eyes were tired and unfocussed. Chrístõ looked on a man who was beaten and broken.

Literally beaten. Outside the cell, fixed to the wall, were the instruments of torture. Whips and scourges and electronic prods for coercing the prisoner. Of course, his body would not show the scars for long. His Gallifreyan DNA would see to that. But he would have felt all the pain.

“Open the door,” Chrístõ said. The prison guard did so, using a specially encoded electronic key on a chain fixed to his wrist.

“Are you sure you want to?” The Ambassador asked him.

“I’m sure.” Chrístõ took a deep breath, all the same, before he stepped into the cell.

Even then, he thought, those beaten eyes didn’t yet recognise him. Not until he was within arms reach of him was there even signs that the prisoner was aware of his presence.

“Epsilon,” Chrístõ whispered. “I…” At last he saw a flicker of recognition. He saw the hands clench and the manacles rattled.

“Come to gloat, cousin?” he asked with a cracked, dry voice. His lips looked parched. Chrístõ looked around. Outside the cell there was a bottle of water on a table. He went to the door and pointed to it. His father passed it to him. He unscrewed the cap and put it to the prisoner’s lips. He drank. He was too desperate not to. But his eyes blazed with humiliation at having to accept such a basic act of charity from one he hated with such vehemence.

“I don’t DO gloating,” Chrístõ answered. “I can’t help remembering… Grepharia III. Do you remember. You murdered two people in cold blood and framed me. You stood over me in the prison cell and laughed.”

Epsilon looked back at him. He, too, remembered that incident.

“So now it’s your turn to laugh,” he answered.

“I’m NOT laughing, Eps. I feel sorry for you. I feel for what you’ve been put through already. And if I can do anything to ease your suffering, to help you, I will.”

“You think I WANT your help?” Epsilon replied. “Do you think I would let myself be beholden to you…”

“Seems like you don’t have any choice. Dare I ask what you did to deserve this?”

“You never even consider it….” Epsilon spoke with a cold, hard tone. “You never even consider that I might be innocent.”

“No,” Chrístõ said. “Because I know you. I know how evil you are. I know you have murdered time and again. Probably more often than I know. And you do it in cold blood, without mercy. So no, I don’t consider the possibility of you being innocent. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel for you, for the pain you’ve been through.” He put his hand on his shoulder as he spoke. He felt Epsilon’s muscles flinch beneath his touch. Even in such desperate straits he rejected the hand of friendship.

“Stick around, my mongrel cousin. You may see how much pain I can take without your sympathy to warm me,” he answered.

Chrístõ sighed. He would have helped him if he could. But Epsilon didn’t want to be helped. At least not by him. He turned and walked out of the cell. As he did, two men stepped in. The cell was locked behind them. Chrístõ’s father took his arm firmly as they began their work.

“Must we watch?” he asked.

“Yes,” his father said. “We must ensure that the punishment is not administered more harshly than deemed necessary.”

Gallifreyan law allowed for public floggings. That was something else he had never witnessed. Such punishments happened in the square in the Capitol and for most of his life, apart from his schooling, he had lived in the countryside. But he knew it happened.

“But we only do it AFTER a prisoner has been convicted,” Chrístõ whispered as he watched Epsilon’s body convulse painfully. An electric prod had been applied to his chest. It must have sent his hearts fibrillating and the look on his face told of extreme agony. “Father, can’t you DO something.”

“It is the law of this world,” The Ambassador said. “Prisoners remanded for capital crimes are subjected to ‘corrective punishment’ for one hour every day.

“He has to endure an HOUR of that?” Chrístõ stepped towards the bars. He looked at his cousin by marriage. He had every reason to hate him, to relish the pain he was going through. But he didn’t. He abhorred the torture he was enduring.

Even if he didn’t want his help, he COULD give it. He closed his eyes and concentrated. It was easier with continued physical contact, but he could do it remotely. It helped that he HAD touched him earlier. He was able to make the connection.

Epsilon’s mind was overwhelmed by the pain. Chrístõ saw it clearly as he made mental contact with him. He gently drew it off, taking some of the pain into his own body. It was agonising. He felt as if his hearts were going to burst. He gripped the bars tightly as the torturer pulled the prod away for a few seconds and he mentally prepared himself for the next onslaught.

The Ambassador looked at his son. He knew what Chrístõ was doing. And he felt a surge of pride in his son’s courage and his generosity of spirit towards one he had no reason to be generous to. The Ambassador himself, with good reason, bitterly hated Epsilon. His thoughts went back to Adano Ambrado, to holding his wife in his arms as she told him she could only live by regenerating, and if she did that, they would lose the child growing within her. He still mourned that child, his daughter. He never knew her, but he mourned her. She was one more of Epsilon’s victims, one more innocent murdered by him. But he was still proud of his son for wanting to spare him some of the agony of what WAS, indeed, a brutal torture.

He looked at Epsilon’s face. He was staring now, directly at Chrístõ. He knew what was happening. The Ambassador saw him smile malevolently as the electronic prods were placed over both his hearts and the current amplified. Epsilon didn’t even flinch this time, but Chrístõ, gripping the bars, looked as if he was having a heart attack.

“No,” he cried and took hold of his son. He reached mentally and broke into the connection between him and Epsilon. “No. He was trying to EASE your burden, not take it all onto himself. You have no morals at all, do you, Rõgæn. You disgrace the name of Gallifrey.” He broke the connection between the two cousins. Epsilon screamed in agony as the full force of the shock torture enveloped his body. Chrístõ, relieved from it, but reeling from the abrupt severing of the mental connection, fainted in his father’s arms. The Ambassador lifted him gently and carried him from the cell block. The punishment WAS barbaric. It went against the precepts of justice as he knew them – that a prisoner should be innocent until proven guilty. But he couldn’t feel sorry for Epsilon right now. He was getting his just deserts for his evil.


Chrístõ woke on a soft bed. He heard an unfamiliar voice speaking to him in Gallifreyan. He had been so long away from home, hearing languages translated into his native tongue for him by the TARDIS’s telepathic field that it always took him by surprise when he heard his own language actually spoken. He replied in the same.

“Where am I?” he asked, trying to put a name to the face of the man who wore the insignia of the Gallifreyan diplomatic corps on his collar. “Where is my father?”

“You are at the Gallifreyan Embassy. Your father had to step out to take an important videopone call,” the man answered. “He will be glad to know that you are awake, honoured Son of Lœngbærrow.”

The last phrase surprised him. It was a term of address used by servants, Caretaker classes, to address an heir to an Oldblood House like himself. But this man looked more like a diplomatic Aide. They were normally recruited from higher ranks than that, the younger sons of Newblood Houses and the like.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I am Morlen Kohbran," he replied. “Your father has been very generous to me. I have been working for him as his personal assistant for some months now.”

“Kohbran!” The name took a while to slip into place. “Of course! The one who…” Kohbran looked embarrassed. Chrístõ spared him the reminder of how he had been used by Epsilon in the attempt on his life that almost killed his friend, Penne.

“Your father, The Ambassador, calls me Kohb in private at least. I should be honoured if you did the same.”

“I should be glad to,” Chrístõ replied, sitting up on the bed and looking about him. Gallifrey’s Embassies were always very elegant places. This one was no exception if this bedroom was anything to go by.

It was certainly a more pleasant room than the one Epsilon was in right now, he mused.

“Khob, do you know why we are here?” he asked him.

“Yes, sir,” Kohb said. “The Ambassador explained the procedure to me.”

“You have reason to hate Epsilon, too. He used you and left you to face the consequences. If Penne was anything but the man he is, you’d be working on a chain gang in the mineral mines on Adano Menor.”

“His Majesty is a VERY generous man. He and his queen have been kind to me, also. I was offered a position in their Court, but my first loyalty is to Gallifrey and I was honoured to accept The Ambassador’s offer of employment. As for my feelings about my former master…” He sighed. “It ill becomes my position to speak out of turn of an employer. But…”

“It’s all right, Kohb. I think I know.” His head still hurt. He felt as if he had been beaten. He felt any number of emotions about what happened. Epsilon had turned his attempt to be generous towards him into a weapon to harm him. He had felt his hatred of him as he turned the power of the electric shock torture against him. Even from within his cell, he was ready to do him harm.

Chrístõ felt humiliated. His act of kindness had been so thoroughly rejected by him. He wondered WHERE the hatred came from. WHY did Epsilon wish him so much harm?

“Jealousy,” The Ambassador said as he came into the room. “Kohb, my good man, would you see if they can make a decent pot of tea around this place? If not, perhaps you could be so kind as to make it yourself.”

“Yes, sir,” Kohb said and went to do his employer’s bidding. The Ambassador sat by his son’s side. He put his hand on his forehead.

“Still warmer than you should be. You need more rest.

“I’m fine,” Chrístõ answered him. “If Kohb can find a pot of tea that will be all the medicine I need. “But… jealousy…

“That is all there is at the root of Epsilon’s evil. Merely jealousy.”

“Of me?” Chrístõ asked. “I was the loneliest child on Gallifrey, bullied and despised by almost everyone. What could he be jealous of?”

“A father’s love,” The Ambassador said. “We lost your dear mother when you were too young to understand. But I always tried to make it up to you with my love. But your cousin – his father died in very murky circumstances. His mother had born him out of duty and then returned to her social life. I don’t think she cared very much for him. He was jealous of my love for you. But the extent to which that jealousy festered and soured his whole being is almost too great to contemplate. I regret I was not able to do anything about it. When I became executor of his father’s estate I offered to formally adopt the boy… I would have raised him alongside you, as a brother. Perhaps things would have been different then. You would both have been less lonely. But his mother despised half bloods and she would not hear of it.”

“He’s going to die here, isn’t he?” Chrístõ said with a dread-filled voice. “They will execute him.”

“Yes,” The Ambassador said. “It seems certain that they will.”

Chrístõ thought about that. He had so often wished for a universe without Epsilon in it. But did he want it this way? Did he want to see his cousin put to death on foreign soil?

He wasn’t sure he could answer that question even to himself. Let alone if his opinion was sought by anyone else.

He said nothing until the tea was brought. His father brought him out onto the balcony of the guest suite in the Embassy. They sat at a table and looked out at the spectacular view over Kappa Psi IV’s capital city, Kiappas. It looked a lot like the Earth city of Hong Kong in the late twentieth century, with many tall, elegant skyscraper buildings set against a backdrop of sweeping mountains, even higher than the buildings on one side, and a crystal blue ocean on the other.

Chrístõ was glad he couldn’t see the prison from here. That building was certainly not elegant. It was grey and chilling. But he COULD see the Courts of Justice. Its mirrored windows reflected golden sunlight as the sun dropped low over the bay.

“Father,” he said. “You told me earlier that the gallows was just for show. How DO they execute criminals here?” he asked.

“They are eviscerated,” The Ambassador replied. Chrístõ gripped his tea cup and swallowed hard.

“They’re… what!”

“The condemned prisoner is strapped to a table in a secure room within the prison. A surgeon opens the stomach cavity and removes the internal organs one by one. The liver, kidneys, stomach, in that order. Then the lungs and heart.”

“While… while he… the prisoner…is awake?”

“At first. The shock usually renders them unconscious. I’m told that sometimes they survive past the removal of the stomach. But removal of the lungs or heart in either order is terminal.”

Chrístõ’s hands shook so violently that his father removed the tea cup from his hand.


“It’s grim,” his father said. “But I have heard of much worse forms of execution. If you’d ever seen the way they do it on Raxacoricofallapatorius you would never eat soup again.”

Chrístõ laughed despite himself.

“Father!” he said. “There is no such planet, surely. You have to be making that up. It sounds like something you used to tell me bedtimes stories about when I was a little boy. Like Rumpelstiltzkin.”

“It was your mother who told you that story,” The Ambassador told him. “You are remembering it wrong. But no, there really is a planet by that name. And it is no fairy tale. But it’s good to see you laugh, Chrístõ. This is a grim business. I see no good end to it. But I didn’t mean for it to affect you so deeply.” He poured another cup of tea and gave it to his son.

“What DID you mean by bringing me here, father?” Chrístõ asked. “I understand that this IS something I shall have to learn to do. But…”

His father sighed. “The High Council sent me. I asked you to join me because I thought – in his distressed situation Rõgæn might just see sense. I hoped he might accept a hand of reconciliation from either one of us. He IS, after all, family, in the loosest sense of the word. And I hoped… I realise now that it was a vain hope. He has too much seething hatred in him. He cannot be helped in that way.” The Ambassador looked at his son. “What you tried to do for him was very brave, Chrístõ. But don’t try that again. He could have killed you.”

“But we go on with the ‘witness’?”

“We have to. That is our duty. To see that he has a fair trial. To witness the carrying out of the sentence.”

“You think he is guilty?” Chrístõ asked. “That he will be… sentenced.”

“I don’t think we can doubt it. This is Rõgæn. We know the extent of his evil deeds.”

“Then he is going to die… in that horrible way.”


Chrístõ looked out over the city again as the sun dropped lower. It was warm, but he shivered.

“I hate the idea of death penalties,” he said. “The idea of taking a life deliberately… Even his.”

“Our job is to observe the proceedings and ensure that the trial is a fair one. That is all. The verdict, and what happens afterwards, is no concern of ours.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ accepted.

“It’s starting to get cold. Let’s go back inside. I think it's time I had something stronger than tea. And then let me hear about your travels since I saw you last. I’m sure you must have plenty to talk about.”

Chrístõ smiled. His father was trying to draw him away from these dark thoughts. He was willing to be drawn, and the rest of the evening passed pleasantly for them both, though Chrístõ sometimes found himself thinking about his cousin by marriage. He wondered if Epsilon would be freed from those horrendous manacles and that distressing position and allowed to lie down and sleep overnight.

He, himself, lay down to sleep in a fine, soft bed. His father looked in on him and reminded him that he slept in a bed like that when he was a boy.

“You DID tell me bedtime stories,” Chrístõ reminded him. “Maybe not Rumpelstiltzkin, but others… I think you told me about the Fendahl as a spooky story for the Winter Solstice night.”

“Big mistake. You had horrendous nightmares.” Chrístõ smiled as he remembered. His father smiled too and pulled the blanket around him as he used to do when his son was a child. “I suppose you’re far too old for me to kiss you goodnight now.”

“FAR too old,” he laughed. “Goodnight, father.”

He had not, in fact, meant to sleep in the ordinary way. He had intended to compose himself and then relax into a third level trance. But it HAD been a long day, and the bed WAS a comfortable one. And he was too drowsy to muster the mental discipline to begin the meditation. He drifted into ordinary sleep.

And of course, he had nightmares. The anxieties of the day reverberated in his mind and he found himself vividly picturing that dreadful cell. Only in his dream it was himself hanging from the manacles, his muscles painfully locked, his legs numb from standing that way for hours. Despair freezing his hearts and dread like a lead weight in his stomach.

And the dread was realised when they came for him. In the corner of his eye as they brought him out of the cell he thought he saw his father. He turned his head and saw him clearly, a grim look on his face. His hand reached out and touched the shoulder of the boy beside him. Epsilon grinned maliciously at him. But he had no chance to ask why his father had replaced him with his worst enemy. He was pushed along to the place euphemistically called the ‘Surgical Room’. He was made to lie down on a hard metal table and his hands and legs and neck were manacled to it. Lights hurt his eyes but he couldn’t close them. Then the lights were blotted out by the ‘surgeon’. He screamed as his scalpel cut through his torso and the flesh was opened to reveal his internal organs. He felt the acute agony as his liver was ripped out of his body, then the kidneys, stomach…

His father’s voice calling his name woke him from the nightmare. He was startled but relieved to find himself lying in a soft, warm bed in an elegant Gallifreyan Embassy bedroom.

“That…felt too real,” he said as he put a hand over his stomach and assured himself that all his internal organs were still there. “I should never have gone to sleep after hearing stuff like that.”

“I should have got you some therapy for those nightmares a century ago,” his father told him.

“Our Gallifreyan doctors would have just put it down me being a ‘half blood’,” Chrístõ replied.

“Yes, I expect they would. And for once they could be right. Your Human side, the sensitive side of you, the side that feels everything so deeply, has free reign when you sleep and your disciplined Gallifreyan side is neutralised.”

“So I am weaker than a full blood?”

“No,” his father told him. “You are not. Sensitivity, empathy, are not character flaws. They are gifts. Treasure them. But it really is time we found a way for you to overcome the nightmares.”

“Not sleeping works,” Chrístõ said. “I can be just as refreshed for the day ahead with a meditative period.”

“Yes, but to do that EVERY night is unnatural even for a Gallifreyan. You should sleep normally. You should sleep some more tonight, my son. We have another long day ahead. You need your strength.”

“Stay by me,” Chrístõ asked. “Until I am asleep.”

“That I willingly do,” his father told him. He held his son’s hand and waited, patiently, for him to drift to sleep again before he returned to his own room.


He woke this time untroubled and refreshed and joined his father in the drawing room where breakfast was laid on. Chrístõ again wondered about Epsilon, and what kind of breakfast he might be having in contrast.

“Chrístõ,” his father said to him. “Whatever Epsilon is suffering is his own doing. And you need not feel guilty and you need not empathise any more than any sentient being empathises with the distress of another.”

“I know,” he answered. “Yet… I always thought I would feel a little more satisfaction in seeing Epsilon brought low. I don’t mean I would gloat in front of him, or add to his suffering with unkind words. But I thought I would feel justice was being done.”

“And you don’t?”

“No. I don’t know why. Yes, the idea of torturing a prisoner who is not even found guilty yet appals me, but it isn’t that. There is something else here, and I can’t put my finger on it.”

“Hmmm.” His father poured a fresh cup of coffee for him and then sat back thoughtfully.

“Chrístõ,” he said at last. “Young as you are, your instincts are ones I would trust. If you DO ‘put your finger on it’ let me know right away. Meantime, let us go with our minds as open as possible to this trial.”


Chrístõ and his father, as official observers duly took their seats in the gallery of the impressive looking courtroom. Their reserved places were the two last to be filled. This trial had generated a lot of public interest. Below, the counsel for the defence and prosecution were in their places. All that was missing was the accused and the judge.

The accused was brought into the court first. Chrístõ noted that he was still manacled, hand and foot, with a chain connecting the two so that his movements were severely limited. He was brought straight in through an internal door to the dock, which was barred all around. Two strong chains fixed firmly to the floor were attached to the hand manacles so that he was secured but had room to stand when required to do so on the arrival of the learned judge.

He watched Epsilon carefully as he was asked how he pleaded. Without hesitation he replied “Not Guilty.” A murmur echoed around the courtroom and there were cries of ‘shame’ and ‘own up’ and ‘fiend’ among other epithets levelled against him, but even Epsilon had the right to plead as he saw fit.

The fact that he was identified as a citizen of Gallifrey sent another shock wave around the court. For two reasons, it seemed. First, that the accused was not a citizen of Kappa Psi, and second, that he WAS a citizen of the mystical planet of Gallifrey, the home of the Time Lords. Chrístõ caught the word ‘fiend’ again, but also ‘gods’, ‘princes’, ‘powerful’ and several other words he had heard applied to his race. The people of Kappa Psi were shocked that a Gallifreyan, a race known for wisdom and fairness, and above all, pacifism, should have committed a heinous and capital crime against one of their own.

More than Epsilon’s life was at stake, Chrístõ realised. The honour of Gallifrey was on trial here. He was the one bad apple souring his people’s reputation in this entire solar system. Building their trust again would be an uphill struggle for the diplomatic corps.

The prosecution began by outlining the ‘facts’ as they were known. The one clear fact was that a man called Josih Black was dead. He was a Minister for Extra Terrestrial Affairs in the Kappa Psi government, and he had been found stabbed to death in the drawing room of a hotel suite booked in the name of the prisoner - Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene. The prisoner was found in the bedroom, asleep, with the murder weapon in his hand.

“Wow! Epsilon,” Chrístõ thought. “How did you manage to do something THAT stupid?”

“Of course you assume I am guilty!” Chrístõ was startled to hear Epsilon’s voice in his head. He turned and looked at him. He stared back through the bars.

“Yes,” Chrístõ answered. “I do. You are a murderer many times over. I’ve seen your handiwork. You did it. I’m just amazed that you did something so obvious and got caught. Wasn’t there any innocent dupe to frame this time?”

He didn’t let Epsilon answer him. He closed his mind to him, putting a mental wall up that even Epsilon couldn’t penetrate and concentrated on the evidence being presented. Forensic evidence confirmed that the blood of Josih Black was on the dagger, as well as the fingerprints of the accused. And it was, indeed, the accused’s dagger. Chrístõ looked at Exhibit A as it was held up for the jury to scrutinise. It was a Gallifreyan ceremonial dagger, with the arms of the House of Oakdaene on the hilt. A precious family heirloom. There was one like it in the drawing room of Mount Lœng House on Gallifrey, with the arms of Lœngbærrow, and Penne had one with the insignia of the House of Ixion, one of the few reminders of his Time Lord ancestry he was proud to own.

Ceremonial daggers were never used in combat. But he would hardly have expected Epsilon to obey tradition when the sanctity of life itself meant nothing to him.

Further evidence was brought, including CCTV of the corridor outside the hotel suite. It showed the prisoner and the victim going into the room. Nobody else, the Prosecution insisted, had entered or left the room other than hotel staff much earlier in the day.

“What was he doing going into a hotel room with a man?” Chrístõ wondered, and immediately dismissed the most obvious conclusion. His cousin definitely preferred the company of women. But the Prosecution had an answer that more appropriately fitted Epsilon’s usual habits. The minister, it was alleged, was meeting with the prisoner in order to sell information about an arms shipment from Kappa Psi III to Kappa Psi VI.

There was uproar in the court. A minister of the Kappa Psi government selling military secrets to strangers. The word treason susurrated around the room.

It changed the mood of the court. There was no less hatred of Epsilon for killing the Minister, but now it was a different kind of crime. It was not a murderer and an innocent victim, but a criminal killing another criminal.

And the whole prosecution case changed. It became not so much about a murder in a hotel room as about a treason plot that came unstuck because the traitor was unexpectedly killed. Chrístõ listened intently to the convoluted details that had come out in the six weeks between the murder and the case coming to trial.

“Six weeks?” Chrístõ looked at Epsilon and wondered how he had stayed sane in that jail, enduring punishments every day such as he had witnessed and experienced yesterday.

Then again, was Epsilon especially sane to begin with?

One thing Chrístõ didn’t get, and still didn’t get when the long, tedious day in court finally adjourned until the next morning.

WHY had he killed the man? It made no sense. If he wanted the information, no doubt for one of his gun running schemes, why kill him? He didn’t get the information and he wound up on trial for his life.

“It REALLY doesn’t add up,” he said to his father as they sat on the balcony, he with a glass of warm red wine, his father with a glass of the Scottish whiskey he was so fond of. “If it was anyone but Eps I’d swear he was being set up. There’s no sense, no logic to it.”

“You’re thinking like a Gallifreyan, Chrístõ,” his father told him. “You’re assuming everything has to have a logic.”

“Eps IS Gallifreyan. A PUREBLOOD! I would expect him to think Gallifreyan.”

“Rõgæn has not acted like a Gallifreyan for a long time,” The Ambassador mused. “I think he has lost all sense of proportion. No, it makes no sense at all for him to kill this man. It makes even less sense for him to be lying there with the knife in his hand when the authorities arrived. I think he IS mad.”

“Do you think he might be reprieved if he is found guilty but insane?” Chrístõ asked.

“I’m not sure the law of this world makes a distinction. Murder is murder under their statutes.”

“So he will die.”

“It seems so.” The Ambassador looked at his son. His expression was difficult to read, and his private thoughts seemed locked off.

“Our job is to ensure a fair trial,” he reminded his son. “The consequences of that trial – our consciences are clear.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ said. He sipped his wine and looked out over the city. He looked at the Law Courts reflecting the evening sunlight.

“I almost feel sorry for him,” he added.


Chrístõ sighed. He still wasn’t sure how he felt. He hated Epsilon. A universe without him in it would be a safer place and a happier one for him. But he wasn’t sure he wanted to see him die. In prison for a long, long time, yes. Even Shada. But execution. He hated the very idea of it, even for his cousin.

“We have no control over what happens,” he said. “We are just here to observe. What happens to him, happens.”

He had to keep that in mind. It eased his mind a little. Epsilon’s fate was not in his hands. He was neither defending nor prosecuting him. He wasn’t a jury member or the judge. His hand would not wield the scalpel cutting into his flesh.

“Chrístõ…” He looked up and realised that his father had spoken to him. He had been so lost in his thoughts he didn’t even hear him. “I asked you if you would like to go to the theatre.”


“The theatre… big place with lots of seats, stage, lights, people playing dress up and make believe.”

Chrístõ smiled at his father’s attempt at humour. It didn’t quite work. But he appreciated the effort.

“It doesn’t seem right enjoying ourselves socially when…”

“You’re not on trial, Chrístõ,” his father reminded him. “You take things too seriously, my boy. I think we SHOULD go out for the evening. And afterwards you will sleep, properly. Even if I have to read you a bedtime story first.”


He didn’t have to read him anything. But he DID sit by him and made sure he slept in the ordinary way.

He didn’t dream. He slept soundly, at least for the first hours. It was still an hour before dawn, though, when he woke with a voice calling in his head.

“Are you enjoying your rest, cousin?” It was Epsilon. In his sleep, the mental barrier broke down. He was reaching into his mind, even from so far away. He tried to raise the wall again, but it seemed as if he was already inside his head. “I’m not. But I don’t suppose you care.”

He wasn’t seeing the room he was in. He wasn’t even seeing through his own eyes. He was looking through Epsilon’s eyes at the prison cell. There was no comforting darkness and warmth. It was brightly lit. He was lying down. But manacled to the bed.

“It’s not my fault,” Chrístõ answered. “YOU are the murderer.”

“Thete, did you ever consider the possibility that I COULD be innocent this time?”

“I told you before, NO. You’re a cold-blooded killer. You’re capable of anything.”

“Except this time…” Epsilon laughed. The laugh was a cold one. “Chrístõ, could you stand by and see me die for something I didn’t do?”

“Are you saying you ARE innocent?” he replied.

“Look into my mind. What do you see?”

“I don’t want to look into your mind.”

“Do it,” Epsilon snarled, and almost against his will Chrístõ found himself seeing his thoughts. He saw, not exactly a whole story, but snapshots, snatches of what took place in the hotel.

“Now,” Epsilon said. “What do you think of that?”

“I don’t believe you,” he answered. “It’s a false memory.”

“You think? Thete, can you live with the doubt? Can you ignore the possibility? Can you go against the Oath?”

Epsilon laughed coldly. The laugh echoed in Chrístõ’s head as he felt his mind withdraw. He was alone with his thoughts again.

And they were disturbed thoughts.

They were thoughts that stayed with him through the sleepless hours in which the sun came up and a new day began. He was quiet at breakfast. His father watched him carefully and said nothing. He said nothing much on the journey to the court house. As they stepped inside, he heard Chrístõ whisper something under his breath. His father was rather surprised.

“I swear to protect the ancient law of Gallifrey, with all my might and main, and will to the end of my days, with justice and honour, tender my actions and my thoughts.”

“The Oath of Rassilon?”

“Justice and honour,” Chrístõ said.


“The Oath I swore when I transcended. My first abiding rule as a Time Lord.”


“He knew,” Chrístõ continued. “He knew the Oath would bind me.”

“Chrístõ…” His father tried again to get a meaningful sentence from him. “What…”

“We NEITHER of us considered it. The possibility that in this instance he might be innocent.”

“Why would we? We’re talking about Rõgæn.”

“And we let that blind us, father. We never even considered…”

“Chrístõ?” His father looked at him carefully. “What do you mean to do?”

“What I have to,” he answered. “Father, you go on to the gallery and observe as the High Council asked you to do. I’ve seen enough. It’s time to act.”

His father was puzzled and worried, but he saw something in his son’s eyes that even he could not challenge. He held him by the shoulders silently for a long moment before turning and heading towards the gallery. Chrístõ got his bearings and then headed to the justice chambers where Epsilon’s defence counsel were preparing their case. He identified himself to them, citing his rarely used qualification in Gallifreyan law, and produced his psychic paper, which resolved into an authorisation from Epsilon for him to take over the case.

“But you haven’t prepared,” was the quite sensible argument. “You haven’t seen any of the reports, the evidence, statements….”

This was true. Chrístõ sat at the table and opened the file. It was long. He began to read. The now unemployed defence counsellors felt their eyes watering in sympathy as they watched Chrístõ’s eyes flickering and the pages turning. Three minutes later he looked up.

“I’m ready,” he said.


There were some murmurings when he stepped up to the defence counsel’s table, and as soon as the proceedings got under way the Prosecution raised the issue.

“The accused asked me to step in as his defence counsel,” Chrístõ told the judge. “I understand that it is short notice, but it is perfectly legal and I can assure you my case is fully prepared.”

He glanced around at Epsilon. He was smiling, much in the way a shark smiled as he confirmed that he had engaged Chrístõ to act for him.

Yesterday he had been a mere observer, Chrístõ recalled. The verdict and consequences of the trial were out of his hands.

Today he held Epsilon’s life in his hands. He could deliberately make a complete hash of it and send him to his doom. He could fail, despite his efforts, to convince the jury that Epsilon was not the killer. Or, he could do what seemed impossible yesterday.

He could prove him innocent.

Epsilon deserved to be punished. He DESERVED to die in a gruesome and painful way. He had done gruesome and painful things to so many innocent people. If he was found guilty it would be justice in its way.

But it wouldn’t be honour.

It wouldn’t be Chrístõ’s honour anyway. And it wasn’t exactly his idea of justice.

He stood as the packed courtroom watched him expectantly.

“I call as my first and only witness, the accused, Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene,” Chrístõ said. There were murmurs around the court. There was a hiatus as Epsilon’s chains were unlocked and he was brought from the dock to the witness box. He was still manacled. When the judge asked him to raise his right hand and swear to tell the truth he laughed.

“Very well,” the judge said after a long pause as he weighed up the option of giving a dangerous man a free hand from his manacles and dispensing with an oath that the accused probably wouldn’t say with sincerity anyway. “Let us get on.”

“I will be brief,” Chrístõ said. “Rõgæn, please tell the court in your own words what you remember of the night in question.”

“Sure,” he answered, still smiling in a self-praising way. “I invited Black up to my room for a drink, and to talk over some business.”

“What sort of business?” Chrístõ asked.

“Business sort of business,” he replied cautiously. “It was all going just fine until the second drink. I started to feel dizzy. I think somebody slipped something in the martini. Black didn’t look so good either. And then… I remember a flash of light. And there were two men in the room. They were wearing all black zentai. One of them had my dagger. I don’t know how. He stabbed Black. And then it all went black… no pun intended. The next I knew I was being hauled out of bed by the police. Don’t even know how I got in bed…”

“That’s a pretty weak story, Eps,” Chrístõ said, glancing at the Prosecution who smiled wryly. “If that was all we had to go on they’d be sharpening the scalpels right now. Aren’t you lucky it isn’t?”

“Get on with it, cousin,” Epsilon hissed under his breath.

“The prosecution case is based on the fact that nobody else came into the room – based on CCTV footage of the corridor and the fact that the room is on the 1,118th floor and the windows are all sealed shut because the atmosphere outside is too thin to breath anyway. Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene is the only person with opportunity.” He paused and held up a set of papers in a binder. “Forensic examination of the room indicates that there were psionic particles in the air.”

There was a low mumble around the court room. Chrístõ saw his father sit up straight and pay close attention.

“For those not aware, which includes the accused’s first defence counsel AND the Prosecution, psionic particles are left behind when a transmat beam is used. They are an unmistakeable indicator that something or somebody either came or went into a room without using the door.”

The mumble became a louder susurration as the explanation sank in.

“Somebody transmatted in, killed Black and placed the weapon in the accused’s hand before transmatting out again. An old fashioned frame up.” He picked up the knife from the evidence table. “This is a fake, incidentally. It’s far too light to be a Gallifreyan Oldblood House Dagger.” He picked up the knife and bent it in two, the hilt snapping off satisfactorily. “Epsilon, were you by any chance showing that weapon off to anybody recently?”

“Yes,” he said. “Few days before then. In a bar. That was the first time I met Black. He was with somebody else. But the other guy left. And that was when Black got down to business. He said he had something I would be interested in. He said he’d sell it to me. For the right price. We arranged to meet again.”

“Something you would be interested in!” The prosecution interrupted. “And what would that be?”

“I don’t know. I never saw it,” Epsilon answered. “I was knocked out and Black was killed before he showed me anything.”

“But you know it was the details of the arms shipment.”

“I don’t know what he had,” Epsilon insisted and Chrístõ thought it was a small point, but one worth making.

“Your honour,” he said. “This trial is to determine one thing. Whether the accused killed Josih Black or not. Whether the victim was or was not carrying state secrets at the time is a matter for another inquiry. My client denies seeing any such secrets, and no papers of any kind where found at the scene. I move that all references to the non-existent transaction be struck from the record. Let us focus on the matter of the capital offence of murder and not be side-tracked by irrelevancies.

The judge agreed. Epsilon glowed.

“Thete, you are nearly as devious as me. I almost get to like you,” he said telepathically.

“Shut up,” Chrístõ answered. “I’m not doing this for you.” He turned back to the jury.

“The evidence is flawed. The prosecution case is based on the presumption that Black and Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene are the only people who entered the room. But there IS evidence that a transmat was used within the room. The weapon involved is a fake. Black appears to be the victim of an assassination by persons unknown. The accused is a scapegoat implicated to throw off the investigators. The fact that they went to the trouble of making a fake dagger that resembles the one the accused owns makes it a very complicated frame-up, but it IS a frame up. The accused is, in fact, an innocent witness to something sinister that bears further investigation. He is NOT, in this instance, the murderer.”

“Beautiful, Thete,” Epsilon gloated. “Beautiful. They never would have believed me. They had completely missed the psionic particles. I was a dead man.”

“You still might be,” Chrístõ answered. “Like I said, shut up.”

But the cross-examination by the Prosecution could not refute the evidence. It looked very much as if Chrístõ had swung the case when finally the judge sent the jury to consider the verdict. Epsilon was taken away in his shackles. Chrístõ went to find his father.

“Chrístõ!” The Ambassador said in greeting to him. “I am… astonished. Why did you…”

“Justice and honour, father,” Chrístõ said. “I knew he was innocent. We never considered it. We condemned him from the start. And we were wrong. Whatever else he has done, he DIDN’T kill this man. He was involved in something stupid and sordid but he DIDN’T commit murder.”

“It’s circumstantial,” The Ambassador said. “The psionic particle trace gives cause for reasonable doubt. But even so, we know Rõgæn is capable…”

“I know he didn’t do it. He connected with me mentally. I saw his memory of it. The two men in zentai… it was real.”

“It wasn’t an implanted memory?”

“No, it was real. I am sure of it,” Chrístõ insisted. “He IS innocent.”

“A moot point. This is Rõgæn we’re talking about.” The Ambassador looked at his son. “He IS guilty of so many things he has evaded punishment for. Terrible things. You could have said and done nothing. You could have let his defence counsel go ahead with no evidence to refute the case other than Rõgæn’s shaky claim to have seen somebody else. He would have been executed for his many crimes.”

“No,” Chrístõ insisted. “He would be executed for something he didn’t do. He still might, if the jury disregard the psionic trace. If that is so… then at least I tried. To sit back and do nothing. To merely observe… I couldn’t do that, not when I knew. Justice and Honour, father. To uphold both I had to fight for him.”

“Even though he will never thank you, and will surely escape this punishment only to commit worse crimes elsewhere?”

“Even so,” Chrístõ said. “Father… Don’t you see. I had to. I know… I know he has used me. He used my belief in the Oath to make me do this. But even so, I AM right. I couldn’t stand by…”

“Yes,” his father said. “You ARE right. Yes, I admit my own readiness to believe he was guilty is an omission on my part. And yet, I wonder… Could I have…”

The Ambassador thought of his wife, and their child who never got to live. For her alone, he would gladly have seen Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene die, even by the barbaric method of execution employed on this planet.

Which made his son, the half-blood, the better man, the better Gallifreyan, after all. He had remembered the oath and took its words to heart, and acted upon them.

He was on the point of saying something more when Kohb stepped up to them, begging The Ambassador's pardon and handing him a paper. Chrístõ recognised it as a printout of an official memorandum from the High Council. It must have come in on the Embassy computer.

"Is there a problem?" he asked as his father read the paper and then folded it and put it into his pocket.

"Not a problem exactly. More like a complication." He hesitated and then spoke again, almost reluctantly. “The High Council have discussed Rõgæn’s case. In the event that he is acquitted here, he is to be arrested by our own people and extradited back to Gallifrey. There is a detachment of the Chancellery Guard on their way.”

“Oh.” Chrístõ let this development sink in. He wasn’t sure if it was good or bad. It meant, of course, that Epsilon WOULD be subjected to justice – Gallifreyan justice this time. And that was right and proper. But…”

“Our method of execution is less graphic and far less painful. But that is all that can be said for it,” The Ambassador said. “What is that Earth expression, ‘out of the frying pan…”

Chrístõ couldn’t even smile at his father’s choice of words. He wished he hadn’t known that as they went into the courtroom again to hear the verdict. He took his place at the defence table. He looked around and saw his father in the gallery, and Epsilon in the dock.

“There’s something you should know,” he told him telepathically.

Epsilon took the news philosophically, it had to be said. Chrístõ turned from him and looked at the jury as they came back into the court. The foreman stood and he was asked if they had reached a verdict.

“We have,” the foreman answered. And he took a deep breath before speaking again.

“On the sole charge of murder, we find the defendant not guilty,” he answered.

There was a hush around the courtroom, but Chrístõ heard Epsilon’s voice in his head. It was triumphant, despite what he had just learnt about his fate. He laughed as all but one pair of handcuffs were removed from him and The Ambassador himself stepped up to the dock and led him from it.

Outside the courtroom, the Kappa Psi press were waiting. So were the Kappa Psi security police who still wanted to know what happened to the secret papers. So were the Gallifreyan Chancellery Guard. Epsilon was handed over to them. The Ambassador stood with Chrístõ as they both watched them march him away under a warrant of extradition that overrode every other outstanding matter. Chrístõ felt relieved on several levels. He DIDN’T have to witness Epsilon being killed in a manner he wasn’t sure he could stomach – and for a crime he was innocent of. But he WAS going to be brought to face their own justice system. That was as it should be.


“So who DID kill Black?” Chrístõ wondered aloud as he sat next to his father on the shuttle back to the Kappa Psi space station. “That’s the only thing unresolved.”

“I don’t know,” The Ambassador said. “But if I had to guess…” He thought about some of the necessary evils he had performed in his ‘other’ life as The Executioner. He wouldn’t have done it that way. Leaving an innocent – relatively innocent – man to take the fall. He would have got Black alone, with the plans. And that would have been the end of it. On Kappa Psi, black operations seemed to be even less ethical than HE would accept.

He looked up as his personal aide brought him another message. This one with the official insignia of the Chancellery Guard. He read it and sighed. He turned to Chrístõ.

“You are not going to believe this,” he said. He handed him the paper. Chrístõ read it. He believed it.

“Epsilon escaped. Father! The Chancellery Guard should not be that easy to bribe. There will need to be an investigation.”

“There will be,” The Ambassador said. “But that is the job of the Castellan, thanks be to Rassilon. I’m going back to being Gallifreyan Ambassador to Adano Ambrado. And you… back to Liverpool to your friends?”

“Yes,” Chrístõ said. “To my friends, and to Julia.” He smiled. He hadn’t thought of her as much as he thought he would. He was too wrapped up in events. But now, he longed to be with her again. He sighed and gave one passing thought to Epsilon, hoping he was a LONG way from here, a long way from anywhere he might be. And then he closed his eyes and thought about Julia.